Lucknow: A doughty survivor of the rough-and-tumble of politics, BSP president Mayawati has manoeuvred her way deftly through the many ups and downs of the game - making and breaking alliances depending on the political mood of the day.
On Monday, the Bahujan Samaj Party supremo brought the curtains down on her party's alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP), forged to fight the BJP in the Lok Sabha in Uttar Pradesh.
The 'gathbandhan' between the arch rivals did not bring the expected returns and the much discussed bonhomie with the SP, under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav, has predictably ended.
Mayawati declared on Twitter, "... in the interest of the party (BSP) and movement, the party will contest all small and big elections on its own strength (henceforth)."
Though the alliance did not come up to her expectations in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BSP won 10 seats, a big gain from the zero in 2014.
The SP just managed to maintain its tally of five seats though it faced humiliating defeats in Badaun, Kannauj and Firozabad where its sitting MPs and family members Dharmendra Yadav, Dimple Yadav and Akshay Yadav lost.
With a history of tying up with political opponents in the state and leaving them soon after, this could well have been par for the electoral course.
In 1993, the BSP contested the Assembly election for the first time in alliance with the SP, and her party's tally went up five times to 65 from a mere 13 in 1989.
Two years later, there was a spectacular falling out with the SP when she came under attack in a state guesthouse in Lucknow.
Following the incident, the BJP extended support to the BSP and Mayawati became chief minister of the state for the first time in 1995.
Within four months, she abandoned the BJP and went on to contest the 1996 election teaming up with her 'Manuvadi' enemy - the Congress - to try and manipulate an upper-caste-Dalit combine and from 65 seats in the Assembly, it grew to 68.
In 1997, Mayawati became chief minister for the second time, again under a unique six-month-rotation arrangement.
She completed her six-month-term and reluctantly handed charge to the BJP's Kalyan Singh only to pull the plug soon after.
In the next elections in 2002, with 101 seats in the Assembly, the BSP again recorded handsome gains and Mayawati became the chief minister for the third time with support from the BJP.
Within three months, Mayawati broke the alliance and resigned from the post of chief minister. She contested elections in 2007 and return to power with a historic mandate and become UP chief minister for the fourth time.
The BSP's break-up with the SP on Monday came after daylong deliberations here Sunday.
"Everyone is aware that forgetting everything of the past as also anti-BSP and anti-Dalit decisions like reservation in promotions and bad law and order during the SP rule in 2012-17, the BSP adhered to the 'gatbandhan dharma' with the Samajwadi Party in the interest of the country," she tweeted in Hindi.
"But the SP's attitude after the elections has forced the BSP to think, will it be possible to defeat the BJP in future, which is not possible," she said.
She, however, did not elaborate on what she meant by the SP's attitude.
An inkling of what was to come was available immediately after the Lok Sabha poll results were out. Mayawati then said her party would go it alone in the upcoming bypolls to a dozen Assembly seats in UP.
Mayawati, according to party sources, had said the alliance was useless and Yadav votes were not transferred to the BSP.
For the record, however, she said at the time that electoral ties with the SP would continue.
In a statement 10 days after the defeat of the alliance in the Lok Sabha elections, Mayawati had said she can work with the SP in future if Yadav is able to "fulfil his duties".
During electioneering, Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly predicted the doom of the opposition grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh.
At a rally in Bahraich, Modi had said "expiry date" of the alliance is May 23 when leaders of the grouping will be at each others' throats.